It’s a well known fact that the teenage brain lacks a frontal lobe.
As the kid approaches 13 and the official teenage years, I can almost see his frontal lobe shrinking.
For instance. He had a friend over and they were going to record a fan video based on the Avengers Civil War movie. For whatever reason, they needed to have bloodshed in the scene.
“We’re going to use ketchup,” the kid tells me. (They’re preparing to shoot this scene in the living room.)
“You can’t use that inside,” I say. “You’ll get it all over the place, and ketchup stains.”
“We’re going to use it just on our faces,” he says. “It won’t get on anything else.”
“Yes, it will,” I tell him. “If you want to use ketchup, you’ll have to go outside. And take some paper towels so you can wipe it off before you come back in.”
“We don’t need paper towels,” he says. “We’re just going to have it on our faces, and nowhere else.”
“You’re going to need paper towels, because it’s going to get on things,” I say. “Take paper towels with you.”
“But we’re only going to have it on our faces,” he says.
“Do as I say,” I say. “Or forget using the ketchup.”
“Ok,” he says. They go out with the ketchup. They don’t take any paper towels.
A few minutes later, they’re back inside. Covered in ketchup. It’s everywhere. Not just on their faces. They do not consult with me for the next phase of their makeup plans. But I hear them discussing it in the kitchen.
“Ketchup’s too gloppy,” they say.
They’re rummaging through the fridge. “Hey, what about this?” the friend says.
“That’s Sriracha sauce,” the kid says.
“I can squirt that on my face,” the friend says.
“It’s pretty spicy,” the kid says.
“Yeah, but it has a nozzle that’ll get it just on my face.”
I’m picturing him getting it in his eyes. It’s going to hurt like hell. Do I say anything? I remember, they have no frontal lobes. They will not listen to my advice. They will not even obey my command not to use it. Remember. They’re not using paper towels.
They decide to try the scene with Sriracha. No paper towels.
A few minutes later they’re back in. The friend is in pain. He wants water. Lots of water. He has given himself a mouthful of straight Sriracha. He says his face feels tingly.
I let them deal with it. Fortunately, it’s not in his eyes. (I was prepared, had it been in his eyes, to take over and do the eye-wash thing.) They drain the water from the Britta pitcher. They use nearly a whole role of paper towels. The kitchen is a mess.
Later that afternoon, after the friend is gone, I find my cell phone on the floor buried under the costumes from the video shoot. The kid already lost his own cell phone. I see now that mine is the next to go.
Good thing it’s just a $5 burner.
From what I understand, this sort of thing is typical with teenagers. I suppose I was pretty dumb, too, at that age. Losing your frontal lobe is part of growing up, and I’m told that most people find theirs again in their mid-20s.
What’s miraculous, though, is that so many people survive their teens.